Mail preference site 'brings confusion'

Charities say a new mail preference service is causing confusion and increasing their workload by bombarding them with requests to stop mailing people who aren't even on their databases.

The website at, launched last Monday by the REaD Group, allows the public to opt out of receiving mail from specific organisations by selecting from its online list. For £4.95, the company will send automated emails to the chosen organisations. It differs from the DMA's Mail Preference Service because it is not an 'all or nothing' service and allows people to stop mail from organisations they have already had contact with.

Peter Foy, donor development manager at the Church Urban Fund, says that in three days he had received requests to remove 60 individuals from the charity's mailing list, but none of the names were on his database.

"We already pay for a screened list - this is just going to cause confusion," he said. "There should be one central suppression file."

Ian Hunt, head of fundraising support at Action for Blind People, has also received requests about 60 individuals, only two of whom were on his databases. "We are definitely concerned about it,"he said.

Mark Roy, chief executive of REaD Group, defended the website. "The rights of the consumer should be paramount, and the fact is that it's illegal to mail people who have said they don't want to receive information," he said.

"Charities are wasting millions of pounds mailing people who don't want to hear from them. We are not trying to cause problems for charities."

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